Hosler carries on winning tradition for GVSU
Soccer coach leads No. 11 Lakers to Sweet 16 in first year
Jeff Hosler can’t escape soccer. He’s never wanted to. Now, after more than two decades in the game, Hosler’s consistently successful journey has led him to Allendale, patrolling the sidelines for the Grand Valley State women’s soccer team.
Hosler excelled in his playing days, making names for himself with top-level club teams and spending time in the Olympic Development Program. He enrolled in East Lansing High School, where he played on an exceptionally strong team under the tutelage of Nick Archer, a 2013 Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association Hall of Fame Inductee.
When the time for college rolled around, Hosler had a wealth of options – the most prestigious of which didn’t include soccer. Over the years, he had made his name known on the hardwood as well as the pitch, excelling as a guard.
His success garnered him two full-ride Division 1 basketball offers – one from Long Island University – Brooklyn and one from Saint Louis University.
But he couldn’t let soccer go.
Hosler opted to stay in state, committing to Division III Alma College to play both basketball and soccer. Before graduating with a degree in business in 2002, Hosler stamped himself in the record books at Alma. Following his playing career, Hosler earned the title of all-time assists leader to go with a top-10 position in career goals and top five in career points.
During his first two years at Alma, Hosler was coached by Alma College Hall of Fame coach Scott Frey.
Between Archer, Frey, his basketball coaches and his father, Steve, a Lansing-area ‘attorney by day and coach by night,’ Hosler matured under a number of exceptional coaches.
“Sports had always been part of my life on more than just a play and watch for entertainment level,” Hosler said. “A lot of times games were watched with my dad pulling out coaching things or viewing the game from a different perspective than just a fan.”
Hosler took on his first college head-coaching job with Alma in 2006. He took over a Scots squad that had won just 90 matches in the 16 seasons prior to his arrival.
When Hosler left Alma after the 2013 season, the program had become an MIAA powerhouse, going 26-13-2 in his final two seasons and posting six consecutive top-three finishes in the MIAA.
When Laker legend Dave DiIanni left for the head coaching job at the University of Iowa, GVSU Director of Athletics Tim Selgo tabbed Hosler as his man, and, in his first season, Hosler has shown why his sports path glimmers with success.
His Lakers have amassed a 19-2-1 record, won the program’s eighth consecutive GLIAC Tournament and are staring a berth to the NCAA Quarterfinals in the face.
The change from the defensive-minded DiIanni to the attack-centric Hosler forced his squad to learn to adjust quickly if they wanted to keep winning. And they have.
“I feel like everybody was nervous and anticipating different things but I think him coming in we were all open-minded and that made the experience better and everyone accepted him quickly,” said senior defender Juane Odendaal. “We had to come together soon and do well and perform as a team.”
Senior forward Jenny Shaba cites Hosler as “one of the more creative coaches who has coached me” – a praise made noticeable in GVSU’s complex set pieces and unpredictable formation changes.
Hosler’s mind for soccer, although more active currently than his feet, gives his on-field skills a run for their money. His love for the game – and limitless thirst for coaching keep his soccer brain running at a high motor. Almost constantly.
“Even when I have downtime, my mind is still on it or it’s on some other aspect of the game that can help my program be better,” Hosler said.
It’s November in West Michigan and there’s a thick blanket of snow on the ground. To the layman it would seem that soccer season has long since passed, replaced by hockey or the beckoning indoor warmth of basketball.
But not here. Not in Allendale. Not where Jeff Hosler is at the helm. The conditions may not be ideal, but Hosler’s Lakers are still playing. He can’t escape soccer, and for now he doesn’t want to.